The human body is a well-coordinated work of a billion nerve cells, a large number of systems and organs. Any process is a coordinated action and well-coordinated work of several systems at once. The brain is one of the main organs of the whole body. It is from his well-coordinated work that many states of our body depend. And it is this body that lends itself to an active “attack” of alcohol in any form and quantity. What is alcoholic epilepsy, and what are the causes of the dangerous condition?
What is epilepsy in an alcoholic?
By itself, the definition of “epilepsy” means an attack, seizure, spasm, and complete loss of consciousness during convulsions of the whole body. During the attack, the patient cannot control his movements, the body arches, foaming from the mouth, screams and extensive convulsions can be observed. There is true (generalized) epilepsy and false. The so-called false alcoholic epilepsy is identical in signs and symptoms to conventional epilepsy.
The difference is only in the etiology of the disease, for what reasons such a condition became possible. The causes of specifically alcoholic epilepsy are alcohol abuse for a long time. The approximate daily dose of alcohol consumption is 0.5-1 liter of vodka. If we take into account the fact that alcoholics “mix” the effects of vodka with beer or tinctures from a pharmacy, then signs of alcoholic epilepsy may appear after 2 years of such “active” use of low-quality alcohol.
Epilepsy and alcohol are two equal concepts. If it was previously believed that epileptic seizures in alcoholism occur only after a very long period of alcohol consumption (after about 10 years of alcohol dependence), today this assumption is not relevant: epilepsy in alcoholics appears even after 2-3 years of alcohol abuse. However, the peculiarity of this “acceleration” is the quality of alcoholic beverages.
According to statistics, more than 70% of all epileptic seizures in people with an alcoholism experience of less than 5 years occur against the background of constant use of low-quality, surrogate alcohol. It is the surrogate that causes convulsions and severe epileptic seizures after drinking. This assumption does not mean at all that if you drink high-quality alcohol, then the risk of epilepsy will not arise. Alcohol in any case for the human body is a poison. Its effects may be immediate or prolonged, with active or moderate symptoms, but one thing is certain – alcohol kills!
Primary epileptic seizure in an alcoholic: important points
Against the background of chronic alcoholism, a complex and practically incurable condition develops – epilepsy. The first attack can occur after five years of abuse, and after 15 years of experience. It all depends on the state of health, the stage of the disease and concomitant chronic diseases, which such patients have a huge number.
However, it is for the first time that such a condition can provoke death from asphyxia. Primary seizures of epilepsy in alcoholism become the very “springboard”, thanks to which the disease degenerates into a chronic form. Subsequent attacks will be mandatory if you do not carry out professional treatment, and do not exclude alcohol in any of its manifestations from your own diet.
Attack of the 1st epilepsy
During the constant use of alcohol, the cells of the body accumulate toxic substances in themselves, the body cannot cope with the toxic effect of alcohol, and there is a general severe intoxication of all internal organs. However, in this case, alcohol intoxication is a kind of “slowing down” process that prevents the development of spasms. The first attack occurs at the moment of complete refusal of alcohol. Just after a long binge (as they say, with a hangover), the primary (and most severe) seizures of epilepsy occur.
The first alcoholic epilepsy, the symptoms for others are manifested in the form of:
- blurred pupils. The patient’s eyes become “glassy” a few seconds before the seizure;
- in a few minutes – speech disorders, thought delay and slow reaction;
- reduced sensitivity;
- loss of consciousness, the patient falls to the floor and arches;
- in between spasm strong groans and cries;
- the most dangerous moment is throwing the head back;
- foam from the mouth;
- spasms and severe convulsions;
- skin color – gray-bluish;
- blue lips;
- lack of response to external factors.
First aid during an epileptic alcohol attack
Often, alcoholic epilepsy for the first time becomes an unexpected “surprise” both for the patient himself and for his friends. Many alcoholics in the period of sobriety work, lead an active lifestyle. It is during the period after the withdrawal of alcohol that the first attack occurs. Signs of alcoholic epilepsy do not differ from generalized epilepsy . It is extremely important to provide proper medical care.
The first thing to do is to protect the patient from possible trauma, remove sharp and heavy objects that, in a fit of an attack, the patient can get hurt. The second rule is to ensure free access of oxygen, it is advisable to take the patient to fresh air, unbutton his shirt, take off his sweater, etc. It is also important to observe the following rules:
- turn the patient to the side position. This is necessary to free the airways from spasms and swelling, and also to ensure that the tongue does not sink during an attack;
- if the patient has severe spasms of the abdominal muscles, shift him to the stomach;
- during the period of convulsions, do not try to stop the movements, all that is needed is to protect against injuries;
- giving water, pills, washing with water is prohibited;
- attacks can be with a sequence in 2-3 minutes, if the attacks do not go away after 10 minutes, you need to call an ambulance;
- there is no need to try to open the jaws of the epileptic, this will only lead to additional traumatization of both the patient himself and the rescuer.
Remember, if an alcohol addict stops drinking alcohol after a long binge, the risk of developing such “side” effects increases. Already on the third day after drinking, there is a risk of developing symptoms of a dangerous disease. According to statistics, mortality during alcoholic epileptic spasm is about 40%. It is important to remember not only the first alarming symptoms, but also to be ready to provide first aid.
Diagnosis of the disease
A feature of epilepsy, which was provoked by alcohol abuse, is the difficulty of diagnosing. Actually, the diagnosis is carried out on the basis of an examination by a narcologist. Additionally, an MRI of the brain may be prescribed, however, in this situation, no changes will be visible.
During the examination, the doctor pays attention to the following symptoms:
- conversation during sleep;
- bouts of sleepwalking;
- convulsions during wakefulness;
- sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, daytime sound sleep);
- change in coordination of movements;
- reaction of nerve impulses of the extremities;
- decreased concentration;
- speech disorders (permanent or symptomatic);
- trembling of the extremities during wakefulness (tremor).
If it is possible to conduct an examination immediately after the attack, then the patient is prescribed an ECG study. This diagnostic allows you to see changes after a seizure.
How to treat alcoholic epilepsy in adults? It should be said right away that the changes that were provoked by the effect of alcohol on brain cells are irreversible. A large number of nerve fibers and cells are simply atrophied, dead. The only thing that can be done is to carefully monitor the patient’s condition, carry out first aid measures in case of a seizure, and be sure to seek medical help.
Over time, the number and intensity of seizures increases, after one comes another, more severe attack. Therefore, inaction can provoke a lethal outcome of the patient. Death from suffocation occurs due to the tongue falling during an attack, and since it is impossible to open the jaw during a spasm, the person simply suffocates.
Treatment in a medical institution: how effective is the drug effect?
Alcoholic epilepsy and its consequences are a worsening condition. If the patient continues to take alcohol, then the risk of death is extremely high. For treatment, hospitalization of the patient is necessary. Within the walls of a medical institution, the following treatment is prescribed:
- cleansing the body of toxins;
- medical treatment.
Strictly speaking, there are no drugs that would help eliminate the symptoms and completely cure the patient. Only anticonvulsants ( Felbamate , Gabapentin , Carbamazepine ) and sedative medications are prescribed. Their reception is aimed at preventing or reducing seizures in duration and intensity. Since the main cause of spasm is the destruction of the cerebral cortex , it is not possible to restore damaged tissues for a number of reasons.
Alcoholic epilepsy: treatment at home
People suffering from alcoholism are completely degraded individuals who have long lost the value of life. The main thing for 95% of alcoholics is to find an opportunity to drink. Since the attacks of alcoholic epilepsy and all stages of its development in most alcoholics pass under a “drunken frenzy”, the mortal risk is not perceived by them as acutely as by relatives. In most cases, treatment is provided by relatives who are afraid for the life of an alcohol addict .
People suffering from alcoholism, in most cases, lose the opportunity to adequately assess the danger that arises against the background of constant drinking. Treatment at home is aimed at calming the nervous system of the patient. It is recommended to take as sedative decoctions:
- collection of herbs: motherwort (not on alcohol!), valerian, calamus roots in equal parts mix. Pour 1 liter of boiling water 3 tbsp. l. mixture, let it brew. After cooling, take as a tea. You can add honey and dried fruits to improve the taste;
- positive feedback regarding the use of juice from onions and garlic. It is necessary to grind 3 large onions and 1 head of garlic in a meat grinder, squeeze the juice through gauze, mix the resulting liquid with 1 tbsp. a spoonful of honey. Take after meals 2 tbsp. spoon. Such juices reduce the intensity of seizures.
The treatment of an alcoholic with epilepsy is a complex and lengthy process, which is initially aimed at restoring the patient’s nervous system and reducing symptoms. And only if the craving for alcohol is reduced, we can talk about a positive outcome of treatment. Otherwise, epilepsy attacks become more frequent, more intense, and the harm that alcohol causes to the whole body cannot be corrected by any medication.